The Verse After the Most Recited

I’ve memorized John 3:16. Almost everyone has. I think I memorized it when I went to bible camp, at age fourteen, to keep from doing dishes. Not the most saintly reason but a very teen reason for sure.

But for some reason, I also memorized the next verse and ironically it is not the most well-known. So, I thought I’d share it today to discuss in our very simple format.

Verse: John 3:17 For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.

Love God: How often do you feel like the whole point of Jesus is to make you feel guilty about the way you live your life? Are you aware that this was not the original plan?

Love People: God seems to have had a specific goal in mind for mankind, and that takes time and thought. Do you condemn others before you think?

Prayer: Father, you are so patient with me, with all my flaws. Help me to remember that your love is here to teach me, not to judge me, for what I cannot do. Help me to do the same for others.

 

 

I’ll Pray For You

 

My mother says this to me often. She and I are not of the same religion. Still I am grateful when I think of my name on their altar, where she and her group of friends, some who don’t even know me, bow their heads and plead for my cause.

My friend’s daughter, a Wiccan, says she hopes the Gods smile down on me and that she will send me good energy. I have only one God but I know He loves her enough to hear her plea for energy in my behalf.

My Catholic friend says she will light a candle for me. My son-in-law says, “Insha’Allah, If God wills it,” and then gets on his knees for me at his mosque. My Pentecostal friend says she will pray over me. My aunt says she will ask the elders of her church to lay their hands on me. I am touched by their concern despite the fact that I don’t practice my faith in the same way. My neighbor, who is agnostic simply says, “I’ll be thinking of you.” I’ll take that too.

Whether these people believe in the same God I do, or not, is beside the point. My God believes in them. It doesn’t matter if He is exactly who they think He is because the God I love cares for the compassionate requests of all of His children. And when they raise their voices to Him, in whatever religious place, ceremony, ritual or language they use, I know that His translation skills are universal. His is the ear of a patient father, who feels the worth of our reaching and hears the language of our hearts.

All prayer, all concentrated love and concern for others, counts in heaven.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/rom.8.26.esv

More from the Bible about Praying for Each Other

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/1ti.2.8.esv

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/mat.18.19.esv

“Therefore…pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/jas.5.16.esv

I Shall Not Want

I love to shop. I love it so much that I use it as my down time, my celebration and my pacifier.  It is really not healthy even though I don’t really buy much. In fact, my husband and my mother have both noted that I can “nickle and dime” myself to death. Still, it seems I can hear the Spirit whispering when I’m moving through the isles, “Are you sure you really need that?”

And, of course, I usually don’t.

Barring the story of the “good shepherd” and how he always sees to the needs of his flock, I attempt to remind myself that this time it’s more than that.  This time when I read, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” (Psalm 23:1) I realize that believing this small phrase is a matter of trust, not acquiesce.  It’s not about sitting passively wishing I had more but of trusting that if I really need it, I will have it.

I’m not sure if you’re like me but I know I’m not that person…the one that waits to see if I really need it.  I am a Preparer; an obsessed version of the good boy scout.  Ask me, at any given time, what I have in my purse and I’m sure I will be able to bring forth something odd and/or only necessary if the sun goes down at exactly 7:19 pm.  So the idea of passing up something in the store that I might, at some point, want to use is really difficult for me. (How many extra measuring tapes and boxes that look like books can one use, you say?)

“I shall not want…”, it’s not a command, it’s a promise.

Oh.

The Day God Made

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. —Psalm 118:24

 

Hi, my name is Dee, and I am a control addict [hello Dee].  It’s been 10 minutes and 21 seconds since my last attempt to control a situation.  I have alienated friends, family, and strangers with  my addiction.  I know it’s all an illusion but I can’t help myself, it’s a disease.

Okay, seriously, I have not alienated people (because I also like to control whether I’m liked or not) but I have gone through some major emotional pain trying to make things come out the way I want them to be.

So the other day I was reading this scripture verse and it suddenly hit me to put the emphasis in another part of the sentence.  THIS is the day the Lord has made.

As in, this is the day the Lord has made…(Yes, I’m sure you would like this day to be a different kind of day)… Let us rejoice and be glad in it….(So, be grateful for this type of day and know that I have a plan.)

Oh, so this isn’t a sentence only meant to praise God but also to give up your control issues?

ME:  No! This is not working out right!  Oh God, I don’t think I can do this!

GOD:  Relax, I’ve got this.  This is the day I made.

ME:  But if this happens everything will be ruined!

GOD:  But this is the day I have made.

ME:  I can’t see any good come of this!  It’s painful for me and uncomfortable for them.

GOD:  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes but the Lord weighs and tries the hearts*. This is the reason I have made this day.

ME:  But, what if…

GOD:  Nevertheless, this is the day I have made.

Hi, my name is Dee, and I am a control addict [hello Dee].  It’s been 5 minutes since my last attempt to control a situation and God loves me anyway. Lucky for me He forgives my attempts to control Him too.

*Proverbs 21:2

How to Wait

I have no need

on bended knee

to plead my cause to God above

for all He does

approved or not, by me,

my Father does with love.

So as I kneel

if I could learn

that time was made abundantly

and recognize

in life, in time,

my Father knows what’s best for me.

So when I plead

an earthly cause

I have no need to want control.

A willing heart,

and trusting faith,

will bring me closer to my goal.

(c) May 2016  DWS

All We Have to Do

Its about Time Series III’m always busy, always overwhelmed with what I have to do.  I can’t seem to sit still. I spent much of my life being busy, looking busy, feeling busy inside.  I remember quite clearly that this stems from a father that you didn’t want to catch you not busy, in case he found something for you to do.  Dad would come home in the evening and we would all scatter like leaves, spending much of our time outside or in our rooms.

Later when I got married at 17, at the insistence of my parents, to a man eight years older than I was the feeling didn’t go away.  Three months after the wedding day I conceived and within the year I had my first child, within four I had my third.  The struggle to please and look busy was replaced by necessity.  Active in church to the point of feeling like a full-time job I added God to my list of men I had to be busy to please.  Now, over 30 years and 6 children later, I find that it has become a horrible habit I can’t shake, sometimes to the point of exhaustion.

Sitting in church Sunday I hear this phrase and it rocks my world; We are saved, not by any works of our own, but by grace.  So I’ve been spinning my wheels all this time, never feeling good enough, never “doing enough” and all this time the ride was paid for?

I sit there stunned. I know I knew this but I guess I never internalized it.  Somehow I’d missed the implications of the gift. I had spent some of that busy time feeling obligation, guilt, frustration and loss, and believing that by my good works God would find me good enough to love, to bless, to invite into heaven.  It frustrates me and I am a bit angry for having gave up my time and my life in that way.

Then I suddenly feel a kind of satisfaction as I contemplate the implications…there were also times that I spent my life being busy for the right reasons; the love of my family, the concern for a friend, the comfort of a pet.  I know these were my gift to God and colleagues in this life because it was never expected.  All I had to do was have faith.

I realize that all I have to do is not on my to-do list.  It’s the decision I make, when I wake up in the morning each day, to believe.

Father / Heavenly Father

http://crystaladoptions.comA little girl visited my daughter a few nights ago.  They’re best friends. She claims to be an atheist but I’m confused about how anyone younger than sixteen knows if there is a God or not for sure.  I remember when I was that age and thought I knew though.  It must be possible to have that strong of a feeling to the contrary.

We spent the evening together having a rare teen-adult connection during conversation where she blurted out that her parents were not very kind to her.  She recounted some stories that made me hurt for her and, even if only remembered wrongly, I still recognized as life-shaping.  This is a girl, I kept thinking, that will turn into a woman who questions everything about the relationships she is in.  She will wonder if, when he says he loves her, if he really does.  She will second-guess her best friends (as she already does) and she will wonder if there is anyone who finds worth in her, even as she painstakingly dresses for another date or business meeting.

And this is a girl who can’t believe in God.  She could never believe in a Father in Heaven who loves her because she doesn’t even believe that her parents do.

I have thought about this for days.  I mull it over as one of the strangest but truest thoughts I’ve had in a while.  The question seems so obvious to me and yet so vague: Does our relationship and belief in a Heavenly Father have anything to do with our dysfunctional or trusting relationships with our own earthly parents?  And, regardless of whether or not those perceptions of our relationships are actually true or not, did it shape the way we formed our bond with God?

Does the man who spends his childhood with a father who is never home believe there is a God but that He doesn’t really participate in the daily lives of his children?  Does the woman who spent her childhood lost in the sea of children of a large family grow up to think that God loves her but never notices the things she does?  Does the child who is criticized often believe that they will never be good enough to go to heaven?

I’m starting to think a lot about my own parents these days and my perception of them.

The Lesser Trials

(c)2012 Waltzingon Photography

What is learned respect for earned humility?

The natural feeling of grateful reflection of another trial overcome?

I, too, have been humbled by the enormous

but I have failed to respect the provoked devotion

one must have to bow beneath lesser trials.

It is easy to comfort oneself after the big mountains

saying, “Look, all I had to overcome!”

But maybe in reverence we should bow our hearts,

even in an exhausted plea for comfort,

for those trials of a lesser degree,

those problems of every day,

and then experience true humility.

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